Skip to main content

Unsuccessful? Modi first toyed with idea of dispensing with IAS babus way back in 2006

VRS Cowlagi
By Rajiv Shah
This is continuation of my previous blog on the role of IAS babus in the Government of India. At the end of the blog, I had said that it would be more pertinent to point towards how Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been toying with the idea of undermining IAS, replacing with what he may consider as professionals. I don’t know the degree to which he has been successful, but from available indications, he does not appear to have seen any major breakthrough in breaking the powerful IAS grip on the administration.
Let me recall, he first toyed with the idea of replacing IAS with professionals when he was chief minister of Gujarat. During my stint in Gandhinagar, lasting from late 1997 to dearly 2013, I did several stories on this, but I have preserved one of them, which I did in 2006 – it is headlined “Professionals to edge out babus?”; it points towards how the state government under him was planning to outsource activities in all departments for more “effective” results.
In his effort to reduce the power of influence-wielding IAS lobby, the Modi government in Gujarat decided to come up with a plan to “infuse” professional blood in all state departments instead of depending on ‘babus’ for policy making, whatever it may mean. For this, he formed a committee of officials and experts, headed by ex-bureaucrat VRS Cowlagi, a former IAS bureaucrat, who prepared a “manpower development plan” to find out how feasible this could be.
Those who formed part of the committee included two other IAS officials, Modi’s principal secretary Hasmukh Adhia (now retired) and state administrative reforms secretary Anita Karwal (now on deputation to Government of India looking after school education), and Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) faculty Biju Varkey, a labour relations expert. I recall, Cowlagi told me that his idea was based on the “experience” accumulated in the new public management system, experimented in New Zealand and Australia.
A three-page note, prepared by Cowlagi and sent to each state secretary, wanted specific answers to the question whether the department under her or him has been ‘outsourcing’ its activity. If yes, then how far has it led to ‘cost reduction’ and ‘client satisfaction’. A senior official, seeking to justify the Modi movev, even told me, “Outsourcing has become essential as government departments today lack expertise in the areas they operate in today’s world.”
Among the arguments cited in favour of the proposed administrative reforms included – babus had “outlived their capacity”, that such “outsourcing” would give the state better expertise in negotiating with World Bank and Asian Development Bank loans, and that decisions require knowledge of world banking as also local requirement, which the IAS officials “generally lack”.
Available facts suggest, Modi has tried to “implement” what he wants to do in the Government of India by seeking to sidestep appointment of joint secretaries, selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) through the civil services examination by considering to appoint experts from the private sector in government organisations on a contract basis for a period of three years.
Sources say, the trend to break the monopoly of IAS officers at the top began in 2014. Thus, more recently, Modi has been found to trying too empanel a number of non-IAS officers to become Union secretaries who are also “specialists” in their fields. In December 2019, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, in fact, even empanelled four non-IAS officers as secretaries and the trend could well continue this year as well.
Be that as it may, the issue is: Why does Modi does not seem trust IAS, a powerful administrative system worked out by none other than Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whom he has been seeking to consider his icon – the Statue of Unity, the higher statue in the world, built under him in record time is a case in point. I have no ready answer to this, but the fact is, the Sardar was surely not part of RSS; in fact, he banned it, and didn’t trust it.
Despite six years of Modi rule, IAS, visualised by the Sardar remains largely secular its outlook, is wedded to the Constitution, even though as administrators they must follow the master’s policy vision willy nilly, something Modi cannot digest. From available facts, he and his junior right-hand, Amit Shah, want no interference of any kind, no file notings that question their push towards Hindutva, which most IAS (I have known majority of them in Gujarat) wouldn’t agree with. 
One can only see how Modi is lately trying to dispense with direct IAS recruitees in the Prime Minister's Office (AK Sharma and Rajiv Topno are no more with PMO), replacing them with promotee IAS officials, often considered to be more pliable.

Comments

TRENDING

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Dad, we only wish the world was deserving of a brave and honest man like you!

Reproduced below is an open letter to jailed former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt by his daughter and son Aakashi and Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt. Bhatt is in Palanpur Jail after being awarded life imprisonment by a Jamnagar sessions court in 2019 for a custodial death way back in November 1990. Known to have said, Narendra Modi as chief minister directed Gujarat cops to allow Hindus to vent their anger, Bhatt was suspended in 2011 for allegedly remaining absent without permission and misuse of official vehicles, and thereafter sacked in August 2015. *** Dearest Dad, Today, as you complete 58 glorious years of your life, we wish we could hug you to never let go and smother you with wishes and love, while you celebrated your birthday surrounded by friends and family. There was a time, not too long ago, when each birthday was celebrated as a wonderful year gone by, and an open armed welcome to the new exciting year ahead; however, today as we stand here, staring into the abyss of the last 3 years,

President Vladimir Putin! Act now! History will record you for ushering in peace

Dr David Leffler, a Ph.D. in Consciousness-Based Military Defense, who has served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College, and currently, serves as the Executive Director at CAMS and lectures, has been propagating what he calls Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) as a means to bring about peace amidst warring nations. Writing in the same vein, here is tells Russian President Vladimir Putin to permanently keep his warriors on Ukraine border: *** President Vladimir Putin! You are amassing (soon perhaps) up to 175,000 Russian military personnel on Ukraine's border. Are you afraid that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members, threatening Russia's sovereignty? The presence of these Russian troops is triggering a response within the international community that could easily become volatile. Tensions are also simultaneously rising between the US and other countries such as China, North Korea and Iran. These hots

Threat to PM's life completely concocted, he shouldn't make irresponsible statements

"BJP protesters were closest to PM's convoy" Farmers call PMO lie: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha on the events related to the visit of the Prime Minister to Punjab on 5th January: *** 1. On receiving the news of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to Punjab on January 5, 10 farmer organizations affiliated to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha had announced a symbolic protest for the arrest of Ajay Mishra Teni and other outstanding demands. For this purpose, programs of protests and effigy burning were announced at village level across Punjab on January 2 and at district and tehsil headquarters on January 5. There was no program to stop the Prime Minister's visit or obstruct his program. 2. As per the pre-determined schedule, peaceful protests were held at every district and tehsil headquarters of Punjab on 5th January. When some farmers were stopped by the police administration from going to the district headquarters of Ferozepur, they protested by sitting on the

How can truth prevail when education system makes one ignorant even about 1+1=2?

In an email alert distributed by janvkalp@googlegroups.com, Prof CK Raju, an Indian computer scientist, mathematician, educator, physicist and polymath, has argued that former colonial societies and their rulers have “accepted” the false history of science, including mathematics, distributed by the church, whose power comes from myths and superstitions. *** Truth presupposes knowledge, which depends on the education system. During colonialism the church captured the education system worldwide. Church power comes from myths and superstitions. Through its capture of the education system, the church is able to instil those myths and superstitions in the minds of children worldwide. This enables it to indoctrinate impressionable young children for 15 to 20 years. People expected only religious propaganda from the church. But the unexpected trick was that the church captured our education system by using a false history of science, which it initially erected during the Crusades. For examp

Post-Balakot 9% increase in support to Modi; "not" BJP or Amit Shah: An Ahmedabad view

By Rajiv Shah Elections were over, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already won a landslide, yet the poll fever seemed to continue unabated among the middle classes of Ahmedabad. Ordinary citizens of Ahmedabad, called Amdavadis, are quite sparing when it comes to bets. They ensure that they do not splurge. One of the bets that I came across on the D-day, May 23, was to tell the most correct number of seats the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would win. 

Gujarat cadre woman IAS official who objected to Modi remark on sleeveless blouse

By Rajiv Shah Two days back, a veteran journalist based in Patna, previously with the Times of India, Ahmedabad, phoned me up to inform me that he had a sad news: Swarnakanta Varma, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, who was acting chief secretary on the dastardly Godhra train burning day, February 27, 2002, which triggered one of the worst ever communal riots in Gujarat, has passed away due to Covid. “I have been informed about this from a friend in Jaipur, where she breathed her last”, Law Kumar Mishra said.

Periyar opposed imposition of alien culture on Dravidian people, but wasn't anti-Hindi

Part 2 of interaction with Thiru K Veeramani, deological disciple of EVR Periyar and one of the senior most leaders of the Dravidian movemen, by  Vidya Bhushan Rawat*: *** Thiru K Veeramani is the ideological disciple of EVR Periyar and one of the senior most leaders of the Dravidian movement at the moment. He started working under his mentor EVR Periyar at the age of 10 years when he delivered his first speech in Salem. Veeramani is President of Dravidar Kazhagam and editor of Modern Rationalist, a monthly journal devoted to Periyar’s ideas. That apart, he is editor of many other magazines and journals in Tamil. This interview was conducted by Vidya Bhushan Rawat at the Periyar Thidal on November 1st, 2019. These are some of the excerpts and the entire interview can be viewed at the youtube link being provided at the end of the article. Dravidian movement internationally Thiru Veeramani said that “It is high time that Periyar must be globalised now. He said that it was easier in rel

Post-Covid, people would look to Ambedkarite, Marxist and Socialist ideologies for direction

Pramod Ranjan*  makes prediction of what people would think post-pandemic phase: *** It is said that had the spread of the Novel Coronavirus not been contained by imposing lockdowns, by now, it would have consumed a substantial chunk of the human residents of the earth. But is the truth as one-sided as is being claimed? Lockdown killed lakhs of persons the world over and its after-effects have ruined the economies of scores of low- and middle-income countries like India. Crores of persons have been condemned to a life of poverty and misery. What is going to change Offices and educational institutions were a gift of the modern age. By bringing human minds together, the places of work and the centres of education not only scripted a new chapter in the development of the human race but also brought diverse communities on common platforms. It is almost certain that in the post-Covid world, schools and offices would not exist as we know them today. A new law for bringing about changes in

#ResignModi vs TINA factor: This activist insists, he can indeed be an alternative!

Chandra Vikash* answers the question: After Modi who? *** With the election results in five states on May 2, and more than a hundred million Indians who have petitioned online with hashtag #ResignModi together with the resound drubbing by the global media projecting him as a narcissist and a disaster, it is a bygone conclusion that Modi should resign or will be forced out by the people very soon. In such an event, do we have a replacement for him in place? After Modi who? I don’t see anyone from the existing power circle – as coming forward or finding support with people given the widespread anger and resentment. It will therefore have to be a dark horse who can rise up to the challenge to bring together India’s diversity and differences, conflicts and contradictions and transform them into new synergies and opportunities to rise up and to save the country from sinking further into despair and disillusionment. In such a scenario, fully aware of our deep and complex challenges at this